Poetry for the month of February, other than love notes embodying beautiful thoughts, feelings, and wishes penned for Valentine’s Day, is so often expressed with negative quotations. For example, by Shirley Jackson, American author and poet: “February, when the days of winter seem endless and no amount of wistful recollection can bring back any air of summer.” Or by Anna Quindlen: “February is a suitable month for dying…” Indeed, it is refreshing to read Eric Lies’ 28 Word Poem for February: “Freezing cold winds, biting chills, and white snow-fluffed hills, Valentine’s day, oh how gay! President’s Day is coming our way. February, sweet and small, greatest month of all.”
January and February were the last two months to be added to the Roman calendar, since the Romans originally considered winter a monthless period. February remained the last month of the calendar year until the reforms that instituted the Julian calendar, and it then became the second month of the year. It consisted of 28 days in common years, with the Gregorian calendar reforms making slight changes to the system for determining which were leap years, and thus contained a 29-day February, as does 2016. February was named after the Latin word februum, which means purification. Its birth flowers are the violet and the primrose, and the birthstone is the amethyst, which symbolizes piety, humility, spiritual wisdom, and sincerity.
I’m still reflecting on an email that I received from the manager of Coles in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, for my recent milestone birthday, and pondering how her well-wishes could ever be possible. She concluded with, “I hope this decade is your best decade!” Months later, the more I contemplate the perspective Dawnya unknowingly conveyed with her gracious words, the more I marvel about all that occurred during the decade of my 60s. I successfully battled breast cancer and in many ways became healthier than I had been in years. I finished penning my Understanding Ursula trilogy and published Arriving: 1909-1919 before I was 66, Thriving: 1920-1939 before 67, and Choosing: 1940-1989 mere months before I turned 68. And I also became a Canadian bestselling author.
Yet, for all of these accomplishments, the real magic of my 60th decade began just months before I reached that milestone birthday. On February 28, 2005, I was asked by his parents if I could assist in providing my only grandchild’s care while his mother returned to gainful employment on a part-time basis. And, thus began an incredible adventure that continues even to this day. Since my grandson and I are both energetic, the years have passed through a flurry of activities–nature hikes, park projects, hockey games, tennis matches, field trips, reading, especially the Usborne Collection of Great Search Books, ping-pong tournaments, miniature golf–much more than I could ever hope to chronicle. Still, the highlight of all our interactions has always been our imaginary play when we go to a very special place where every one of our thrilling escapades truly happen, whether we are navigating an airplane, or operating our perpetually expanding and most creative endeavour, the Master $eller Store.
I could not agree more with the English poet, Christina Rossetti’s prediction, “The February born will find sincerity and peace of mind.” During this month, I am not only able to extend Valentine Day sentiments to my grandson and #1 fan, but also my birthday wishes. Throughout his 12 magical years, our love has deepened with every moment we have spent together, and I shall be forever grateful for the incredible dimension this precious boy has added to my life. Furthermore, I am confident that every grandparent who has ever been blessed with the love and joy of a grandchild shares the depth of my feelings.
May you receive flowers and chocolates for Valentine’s Day, and take some time for you during the extra day in February.